A forward-thinking and engaging collaboration...

Drill music is often caricatured as nothing more than songs about drugs, stabbings and inner city gang violence – a crude picture which has never been true of the genre as a whole. Headie One and Fred Again’s new mixtape ‘Gang’ might have a title that echoes this moral panic, but the project itself is about as far from the swagger of the street as possible.

A moody, melancholy exploration of Headie One’s deepest fears, ‘Gang’ is a masterpiece in vulnerability. The lyrics circle themes of drug dealing and police interference, but there’s no empty boasting here, just a raw portrait that shows the flipside to the machismo of drug dealing anthems - a chronicle of the mental and physical pain that it leaves behind.

Musically, ‘Gang’ is as experimental as it gets, starting with a piano-led intro, ducking through techno-inspired beats on the title track and into an upbeat collaboration with Jamie xx which could almost be a classic club banger. A surprisingly touching interlude featuring slowthai is a vocally distorted celebration of brotherly affection which bleeds perfectly into the punching beats of ‘Know Me’ and the beautiful Sampha-featuring closer ‘SOLDIERS’.

As genres grow past their initial birth, artists inevitably start pushing at their boundaries. Headie One gave us a glimpse of this with last year’s Music x Road, but this collaboration with Fred Again sees him break out of drill in a way that few would have the talent to pull off.


Words: Jake Hawkes

- - -

- - -

Join us on the ad-free creative social network Vero, as we get under the skin of global cultural happenings. Follow Clash Magazine as we skip merrily between clubs, concerts, interviews and photo shoots. Get backstage sneak peeks, exclusive content and access to Clash Live events and a true view into our world as the fun and games unfold.



Join us on VERO

Join the Clash mailing list for up to the minute music, fashion and film news.